WindTapper's Journal - Grassroots Green Energy Projects

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WindTapper's Blog

October 2011

Second Thoughts

I am having second thoughts about this whole endeavor. With the cost of batteries and their limited life span, I wonder whether I should recommend that people get the power inverters and sell their electricity to the power company instead of using batteries; but then when I see the cost of inverters and their limited lifespan I wonder if it is worth making a go of having a wind farm on this micro scale.

Maybe I am just depressed that the Weather Channel forecast a week of sun while it has continued to rain and rain and rain.... Oh yes. Then there is the impossibility of staying awake to read all the chapters in The Dynamo. I had to go to the store in order to wake up! It seems that nobody speaks solely to the topic I am interested in which is generating electricity from scratch.

OK. So Mike Faraday discovered how to make electricity in 1831 (p. 8), but so far I haven't found a simple explanation of exactly the best angles to use between the coil and the rotating magnets.... But, OK, even if I don't make or save a bunch of money on generating electricity, at least I hope to keep my mind active in the process of developing micro wind power, and in trying to explain and market it.

OH yes. The bamboo skewers are a NO-GO. One of these skewers that was left out in the several weeks of rain we have had is now infected with mildew. Apparently bamboo has no natural immunity from mildew, and even treating it with chlorine is not going to stop the mildew from returning.

Here is the photo I promised you that shows my current whirligig minus its plastic labels.

I finally remembered that I had sprayed these fins with fruit tree bug treatment called "agricultural oil" at an earlier date. That spray might have helped the labels to become loose enough to remove, recently.

We finally got a little sun, just before sundown today.

Courageous and Reading

If you enjoyed The Preacher's Wife of many years ago, which I called "schmultzy" at the time but did enjoy, you might enjoy Courageous but it is possibly 5 times as schmultzy as The Preacher's Wife. If you are missing going to church -- which I occasionally do miss but can't afford the 10% tithe since I am unemployed -- then you will love Courageous, if only to sit there and pluck apart some of its cognitive dissonance-producing scenarios, such as a male policeman inviting a lone but married-with-children Latino male to join a small group of policemen in a backyard on a regular basis. In the first place the Latino probably has a group of friends already, considering how gregarious many Latinos are.

I applaud the sentiments of this movie. In fact I had a self righteous glow coming out of this movie as I was driving to my next destination -- and I am not even male nor have any kids! I think I'll leave my comments at that because I don't want to spoil your little "find the dissonance" game at your house.

My next destination was the library where I picked up two books to read. The Dynamo of 1909 is a real trip so far (page 9) and I plan to post my notes from it after I have more of them. I suppose I will categorize those notes as "Electrical Matters." The second book is another classic, Electro-magnetic Machines of1955, published by Philosophical Library, Inc., and printed in Great Britain.

Moneyball and Rum Diary

Both movies are winners and mostly true, I believe. Moneyball is inspirational as well as human interest and definitely "suitable for general audiences." I went to see Moneyball the second time, tonight. Rum Diary drew me to it because of Johnny Depp but also because for a few years I was a rum drinker. This one is definitely politically correct for Democrats to watch, being an indictment of the moneyed elite in bed with politicians. A bit of sexual motion in this one removes it from the favorites lists of Fundamentalists, unfortunately, but not my favorites list.

I still love Super 8 by the way and I wish there was a sci-fi category for the Oscars. How about a comedy category, too? Knocked Up has been playing on the TV and I find so much to enjoy in that movie!

As for the Designing Prototypes category, I found Moneyball so inspiring that I have new impetus for getting serious about basic research into electromagnetism geometries. I MUST get serious about getting down to brass tacks on this, as they say, and let some of the experiments hanging whirligigs outside take second place for a while....

Also, I may rethink having a website during my electricity generation experiments. Those are more important for making developments in wind power than blogging or advertising my activities at this point in the process.

Spraying and Skimming

Finally, we will hopefully have a few days of sunshine in a row. I sprayed our fruit trees today with a mixture of Mite Rid, water, topical avocado oil, Tea Tree Oil, Spearmint Oil, with a few drips of Palmolive dish-washing liquid -- the green, original formula of Palmolive. The Palmolive original is biodegradable, btw.

Since fewer leaves exist on our brand new fruit trees -- the peach had lost all but two, and the blueberry bush is practically denuded -- I had spray left over, so I went around the house spraying spider webs and little spider egg sacks. But then I still had some spray left so I sprayed those glued-on branding layers on my whirligig's fins. Spiders sometimes like to sit on the gig, too, although this time my purpose was to experiment with oil on the remnants of the labels to see if the oil in the spray would bind to the glue.

Also, I started skimming through Homebrew Wind Power last evening, which I find is a book printed in Canada. My first impression was mixed. I was heartily disappointed that the electromagnetism of generator geometry and basic electricity information was dumbed down so much that I can hardly recognize it as being factual -- at least in one chapter.

The graphic insets dealing with electromagnetism geometries of circuits was what made me buy the book, although, or perhaps because I didn't have enough time to examine those graphics before purchasing the book. Those graphics are interesting but not exactly what I am looking for. No matter, though. The imagined promise of those graphics and subsequent disappointment leaves "more for me" to write about, lol, in my future book.

I am struck by the wide differences between my wind turbine design and the average windmill configuration. Practically everything is different, so I do have an original idea or set of ideas. I have no tower, no long blades, and connecting wires will not be as long. Also, my generator sits out on the circumference, rather than around the center of the rotor-to-coil coupling. However, I am still working with electromagnetics which have definite geometries and constraints. I will have to dig deeper into Homebrew Wind Power in order to try to derive information implied by its pictures in order to get at the underlying logic of its magnet to coil coupling geometries.

I was grateful, on the other hand, for the step-by-step nature of photos regarding the casting of fiberglass encasings of coils and magnets. I have never yet worked with fiberglass. The book reports that the coil wires do move! As I wrote in a previous entry, documenting such movements might prove to be fun!

I forgot to mention that the book does, indeed, have coil data for number of turns and wire gauges that produce three different voltages. I was searching for that data a while back. So far, though, the data is not for my outer perimeter coil style, but at least we now have proportionalities to apply to rough predictions of voltage outputs.

Bottle Labels

The edges of the store brand labels on the plastic one gallon jugs -- mostly water jugs -- that I use to make the blades/fins on our whirligig wind turbines have all curled up after a few weeks of soggy weather here. I was able to pull off the labels easily today. The part that came off was the upper layer of plastic that told where I had bought and what had been in the bottles.

A second layer, underneath the plastic label layer, is paper with glue still sticking to the bottle pieces. I suppose that if I wanted to insist on removing this layer right now I would get a can of Pam spray oil to soak the paper and its underlying glue in order to soften the whole mess before wiping it all off -- after letting the oil sit on it for some hours. However, I will simply watch what happens to the under layer, for now.

If I had had spray painted the fins with Krylar I might be upset to lose those rectangles of paint with the removal of the labels. Then again, I might rejoice that there would now be new and regular rectangles that I could either leave white or continue to experiment artistically on, if I had tried to decorate the fins.

A picture will be posted of the new state of the fins, but not today. The sky is still dreary -- too dark to have enough light to show the gig off yet.... Oh yes. I must go back though my entries to find out how long this gig has been in existence. I finally made new categories, too, for "Strength of Materials," "Art and Advertising," and "Investing in Windpower Development." Some day perhaps I will go back through previous entries with a view toward putting those newest category labels where they belong. However, since most entries will be taken down eventually or used as rough first drafts for parts of my book, proper indexing will benefit myself most -- not you all.

Investments and Snakes

A few days ago I picked up from Fruth Pharmacy some low-cost outdoor lighting equipment. Christmas lights, you know, are starting to get stocked into stores.
12.99    3 Outlet Power Stake
  9.99   Dual Floodlight Kit
  1.99   12 Multi-Use (plastic) Ties
 1.69   Tax
26.66   Total

I will have to purchase more Krylar spray paint for coating plastic. Both the US Plastic PVC sheets and the plastic leachbed liners (from Carter Lumber) are not hardened for exposure to sunlight. Also, the leachbed liners are black, which will attract snakes to hide under them. So, I will have to spray paint the insides of those liners, too.

How do I know about snakes being attracted to black? Well, I am glad you asked, lol. One day -- actually it was graduation day of 1983, when I got my B.S. with a major in computer science, minor in Psychology -- I stopped by a roadside park after the ceremonies in order to chill out. I took off my black graduation gown which people wear on the outside of their regular clothing, btw. I placed the gown on the picnic table bench next to me and was reading a book.

Across the grass of the park a big garden snake started slithering right toward me. I stood up on the bench of the picnic table and started yelling and waving my arms, but the snake just kept on coming. Once I looked around some more I noticed that the drainage culverts beside the road were casting shadows that were just as black as my gown. Finally, I grabbed the gown and high-tailed it out of there.

Another big garden snake came by our house last year, from the area of the creek, crossing the road in order to do it. The snake went under our evergreen bushes where it is also dark. I found out about that too late to save the snake, when a vulture was picking at its carcass. The snake had gotten caught by the deer netting I use to keep deer from killing the bushes in the winter time, and it had died, hanging from the netting.

So you see, I know about how snakes are attracted to the color black....I will be using the leachbed liners upside down to cover my batteries outside because they are weatherproof -- more or less -- allowing ventilation to take away excess hydrogen while mostly shielding the electrical equipment from precipitation. I just don't want to attract snakes to our little electric generator party is all....


Posting entries will be difficult during the near term. I must re-apply the outer layer of plastic to our windows. That double-sided, inexpensive tape I used to put the first inner layer of plastic on our windows, craps out big-time. It disintegrates to a powder -- at least the glue on it. I will have to remember to wear a dust mask.... The innermost layer is still intact on most of the windows. Perhaps I re-glued that last year, but now I must gently move that innermost layer aside to get to the outermost inner layer.... I wonder if there is an abbreviation for a big sigh? : - (

Even furnace duct tape will disintegrate down to practically nothing in places, wherever the sun strikes it for several hours per day....

Then I must work the Red Cross Blood Bank tomorrow. The SB 5 opposition team "master," sexist pig for our little town doesn't need me to type. I am too "mature" and/or married to suit his tastes. At least there's that.... So, anyway, I'll be busy for a few days with other tasks, but I will return here to report new research on my windpower developments some day....

Oh yes. An issue arose in reference to a book on Steve Jobs. That author spoke on John Stewart's The Daily Show about how Wosniac was giving his inventions away, but Jobs commercialized them. What a conundrum! Who was the more valuable developer, Wosniac or Jobs?

Falling Leaves

Oh no! The Oak and Sycamore trees are shedding their leaves today! I ran around getting photos before the leaves all make it to the ground.

A few days ago I got this shot of the Sugar Maple in the center of the photo, when it was raining. Of course the photo also has the metal frame on our back deck -- the frame for a greenhouse that Lowe's sells.

Here is the main Oak this morning. I swear it must be 100 feet tall, but it is across the lane from our house.

The same Oak a few days ago, from a different angle and later in the day.

And finally, the stand of Sycamore trees. Unfortunately, details are sparse without the enlargement feature that I used to have on this website. Vistaprint is looking into it, but I guess I'll have to go back to Intuit to get the enlargement feature again.

"Inch Worm... Measuring the Marigolds"

OK, so I remember songs I learned as a child. Anyway, I did "line of sight" measurements this morning, comparing my latest wind turbine design to the space available for hanging it.
It turns out to be too big to get two of these hung side-by-side at the swing set. It also hangs out a tiny bit beyond the eave at the outside corner of our garage.

It has approximately a 14 1/2 inch diameter to the hoop, but with half-bottle blades (or fins) the diameter is 29+ inches. I will have to see if I can make the hoop smaller. This is yet another variation I should test on the back porch if it is possible to narrow the turbine using the hoop method. My Dempsey wire will not adequately support a stable placement of pipe insulation so that the handle half of the bottle would stay securely positioned, but perhaps I could experiment with unstable handle halves. I don't know.

This 14 1/2 inch hoop does fit 8 onto my metal frame on the back deck, but I see that the roof crossbeams do not need to be exactly halfway between the sides and the top of the roof. In fact, they should go more like one third the distance from the sides to the center, or perhaps even less, such as one quarter. That may give me room to walk in the center, too, as well as to hang the large, current turbine in the center at the house end of the frame.

I really hate to put a roof on it, even though it will snow this winter, because the wind will be lessened, but in truth, I should take measurements of variations of rpms in both the roofless and roofed configurations, over time, of course.

Shakespeare and Anonymous

An article by Stephen Marche in the October 23 2011 issue of The New York Times Magazine is wonderful, imho, and joyfully written. The last line sums it up: "Somebody here is a fraud, but it isn't Shakespeare." On the other hand, whatever gets kids interested in Shakespeare at least gets them reading, writing, and/or listening and speaking, which -- as some English teachers will settle for -- is the name of the game.

Library Research

Finally, I ran across areas of books that are readily available in our university library via online searching -- not sent to the Annex and such. I cannot say what use the essays from 1802, 1819, 1888, and 1895 will be, but it is interesting that two or more come from the Landmarks of Science microfiche collection, from the Cambridge University Press. Ah, Mother England! One of 1802 is from Edinburgh, too, invoking memories of Frankenstein's monster and the history of Edinburgh's medical and literal underground. Some come from a Philosophical Journal of Edinburgh, and one dealt with "animal magnetism", tee hee.

More modern books related to Electricity and Magnetism as a Keyword search can be found around QC518, QC507, QC522, QC517, QA845, QC523, and QC527 I imagine. Some older or Dewey numbers I got were 631.3, 621.316, and 621.313, but those are at the Annex remote storage. Great Inventions (1932) was at T19 and (1900) at T20. I also downloaded a pdf from Wisconsin as a government document, but I fear copyright or patent infringement with it so I have left it alone for now. It has a 2002 date. Government documents produced on contract are not free from copyright and patent infringement issues.

I know. Why, then, did I buy Homebrew Wind Power? Well, I guess since it is a single book I will be able to see for myself what part or parts of it I do or do not use in my own future book, and how those parts relate to the older, copyright and patent-free public domain materials that I dig up during my library excursions into the literature.

A New Day, A New Way

Reading Red Mars I am inspired to take a more scientific approach to making wind powered electricity generator prototypes. Although I had already written that I would like to test a variety of turbine configurations, I tried to remake the single hoop I had already made into a three-chain, 6/12 bladed hoop, into a four-chain, 8/16 bladed, or a three-chain, 9/18 bladed hoop. However, the junction of the hoop will not budge, so I cannot remake it. Therefore, between Red Mars and a stuck junction, I am back now planning to make a variety of these smaller hoop sizes to test side-by-side on our backyard deck.

The six-by-six inch foundation to our metal frame provides a convenient platform also for cross-members as anchors for eight of the reduced-diameter whirligigs that I will be able to hang from the frame. I have decided to leave the lowest 6 inches, under the anchors, empty, for snow removal and/or stringing wire down under the deck to connect to batteries.

I will have to clear away space under the deck for batteries, but I have decided that the sun's heat in the summer does not affect the space under the deck the way it does above. I will have to test that theory with thermometers before actually implementing these plans, but I had originally ignored the space under the deck because it gets so hot on the deck in the sun. Silly me. The heat exchanger is next to the deck, so that will draw air across the ground, too, which will add ventilation to the batteries, in addition to the natural heat convection caused by the heat on the upper side of the deck drawing air from below.

Also, I have ordered Homebrew Wind Power because it has two graphics I am interested in. One has to do with magnetic fields in or near coils; the other has to do with connecting batteries in series. I hadn't enough time to read about these two things in our local new and used book store, but I found this book new online at Amazon for a cheaper price. Sorry, bookstore. I also shopped for oscilloscopes at Amazon of all places, but I cannot afford another one of these, yet.

Someday maybe I wind find out how to get my comments working on this website and set up a way for philanthropists to donate to this cause on my site.... Please send me an email if you could help!  That is, folks!

Misc. 2

Updates on latest entries: 1) Ray Bradbury is the author's name I could not remember. the fellow who wrote a lot of juvenile sci-fi about Mars. 2) I only have approx. 1/5 of Red Mars left to read. I am still not happy with the book, but still reading. This author's villain is an American politician, btw, and the matriarchies are also shown in bad lights. I hate sexists, too.

I have begun combing the online catalog of our local university library for books on the generation of electricity, but so many of the earliest works are in remote storage. It will take some time for me to work through those books. My theory is that the technology is so old that it is far beyond patent protection, however, the seeming dirth of well-illustrated materials on the topic suggests I might have an opportunity to create a good book on the topic of electricity generation geometries -- if only to publish my lab manual results from testing various geometries myself. I do not have a good budget, however, so it will take time. There is a 4-channel oscilloscope for $199 that would be nice to have, but I can't afford it. And again, I have only scratched the surface of available materials at our university library.

A third topic: I do not know why I don't have access to any comments. Is no one making any comments on this blog? That seems so weird to me after years at Blogit and thousands of comments made on my blogs! I will inquire of Vistaprint on this issue.

An Old Song and More Red Mars

Visions of "Ice-N-Glass Curtains You Can Roll Right Down" came to me from an old song we learned in elementary school. "My high-steppin' surrey" was another part of the line, referring to the earliest automobiles of the early 1900's I imagine. I have a 3 or 4 by 9 foot roll of clear vinyl I purchased for making an awning above my currently hung whirligig. I was thinking of getting another roll and joining the two down the middle via a strip of more substantial vinyl, to put over top of the frame on our back porch. This would let the sun shine into our back windows and melt the snow off the porch....

However, I will probably just throw up a truck tarpaulin when it snows....

Red Mars has finally gotten real, so to speak. The book seemed entirely too idealistic and fantastic with its wishes and all the accomplishments of its colonists who never paid any price for all the technology, supplies, machinery, and support they were getting from Earth-bound providers. Finally, it all comes down to politics.... I am not sure I like the book because it took so long for it to get real...


Reading Red Mars right now I find it less than satisfying, although, the author does pose many scientific questions and information concerning Mars's geology and the whole idea of terraforming and colonizing Mars. This is definitely an adult book, unlike the many juvenile sci-fi books I read about living on Mars several decades ago. I forget that author's name, even though it should be quite evident to me.

Red Mars is almost onomatopoetic in that it depicts the tedium of a 6-month trip to Mars by being tedious in its first section. And it has a continuous thread of intrigue mixed with idiosyncratic psychology and social psychology. As a younger person I could tolerate Assimov's Foundation Trilogy better than this book, but this book does present information that Assimov would never have touched -- especially regarding matriarchic culture. I knew that Poles partook of same, but not Russians. Who knew?

In keeping with the "Misc." title of this entry, let us switch to engineering a cover for my wind turbines during snow storms. Right there, we have the germ of an idea, which is to have a removable covering, one only used for snow storms. I got somewhat fed up with trying to design something that fit all circumstances and would still be stable, and thought about just throwing a truck tarpalin up, tying down its edges, but the weight of large snowfall will present a problem. I could end up with a mess if I were to try to remove it while it is buried under several inches of snow, too.

Lastly, since I have not heard back from "TechGrowthOhio" I am left to wonder whether their Republican association with Voynovich has something to do with their lack of response. I am forced to say, "'I will then,' said the little red hen." However, someday I might contact a Democratic organization and see what they might say to my ideas. In any case I will be looking into preferential tax treatment for alternative energy research such as I am doing and will be doing. Also, I plan to spend time combing through Patents even though that is a never-ending proposition....At least I might find readily identifiable designs that are way too old to still be limited to use by their original patent owners....
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